Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Apathy or Panic

So, I probably have something seriously wrong with my rational capacities. What you may or may not know is that I am a fulltime student in two different graduate programs-- one a MA in Higher Education and one a M.Div in Church Planting. I also work part-time (<10hrs/wk) for a gas station and have a half-graduate assistantship (10hrs/wk). Last semester went pretty well. Things were on time and completed in order. This semester is significantly more wild. Work hasn't changed and I appreciate my assistantship a great deal (it's been great help in terms of training for some of the more administrative/logistical sides of ministry).

I'm also glad I took the intensive week course at the seminary instead of doing a full-semester 15 credit load. I couldn't have done it. I still need to finish my final paper in the next few weeks, but that is more manageable. Taking Church and College at Geneva (also a week-long intensive) as my sociology credit was also one of my better choices, I think and it's been a huge help for my capstone research.

Which brings me to the thing that really consumes my time: capstone. It's a great thing, really...well, I'm supposed to say that, so I do. It's research, which I'm decent at. It's surveying, which I'm learning. It's a lot of trying to dream of the Church getting to be the Church, which is what I love about it. My advisor's pretty awesome and has kept it on track more than I could have hoped to figure out on my own (this really isn't my native territory, after all). I spend most of my time on this project-- reading, writing, emailing, you name it. I think it's working...but it's also led to some neglect with my other coursework, which I'm working on.

In thinking about the sheer amount of work, I was thinking yesterday about why I haven't panicked yet. Then it hit me: my default response to school stress is become apathetic about it. Not in terms of how I think about it, but I emotionally withdraw from it. Overall, I think this has been healthier for me. It's not great for my productivity, but it's better than burning out or freaking out over something that, while good, isn't the be-all, end-all. So, I'm hopeful-- it's a good semester. God willing, I'll do right by my professors and walk the stage in May for my MA in Higher Education.

And somehow, through it all, God will provide.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Job ikonish and Ash Wednesday

So I was at an ecumenical Ash Wednesday service the other day. And the sermon was probably the most schizophrenic thing I've heard from a pulpit. I don't think it was intentional, and I'm sure in the preacher's mind, it all cohered, somehow. But I was struck by the dedication with which the preacher had to both the Gospel's claim that Jesus has done it all for us, and there's nothing we can nor should do to merit that love that came to us and to the sinful pride's claim that there has to be something that I do, even if it be the fulfillment of my baptismal vows (which, btw, I did not have since...well...I wasn't baptized in a tradition with vows). It was truly frightening.

So I tried to ignore it and thought about Ash Wednesday--and how everyone wants to make it a great show of personal piety and abstinence. I mean, really...isn't the season about repentance? Why would I start it off by adding things to the list that I need to repent of? "But what about discipline?!" is the immediate rejoinder I've gotten this week, but my response to that is this: what about it? I thought discipline was my Father's job, not mine. Seriously, what good and loving parent allows a child to discipline themselves? We try to do this all the time, from toddlerhood on. As a three year old, if you realized you did something wrong, some of us resorted to hitting ourselves (probably on the head) or calling ourselves "stupid." And didn't our parents stop us? Why? Because discipline wasn't our job. It was their's.

So, I really hope people get that Lent is about repentance, not self-discipline. Repentance means freedom and healing are coming. It means our Father is mending our brokenness and making beauty and truth and goodness in all the ugly places. It means the promises of God remain for me to put my hopes in and keep going, to keep repenting, and receiving the assurance of the Gospel as I go.

For Christmas, I gave my family members ikon-style portraits of biblical characters. They've been fun to draw. I'm not an ikon-reverencing kind of person, but I have a great appreciation for the aesthetic message of the art. While ignoring the Ash Wednesday sermon, I had this image of Job come to mind with his statement before the LORD, "I repent in dust and ashes." Here's what I drew (now, I'm no really good artist or anything, but it is what it is):


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Apocalypse


A dried up binding
weathered pages curled up
faded type black and red
but left unread
words forgotten
but echoes of announcement flow on.


An old rusted cup
battered-up plate
& dusty neglected table
what crumbs may have been
have long been eaten
by a piety more faithful than human.

moth-eaten cloths
drooping linens
empty baskets unwoven by time
sharded glass and cluttered stone
rotted wood
bowed cross.

ABOMINATION!
DESOLATION!
WILDERNESS OF SIN!
GROAN, DECAY, DEATH
BONDAGE & BURDENS
EMPTINESS & LOSS

see, I have told you beforehand
pray and be on your guard
then you will see & they will see
stay awake, straighten up, look up
your redemption is near
heaven & earth may pass away
but my words shall not pass away.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Journaling, writing, talking --> Creating

So this semester is forcing me to get back to things I actually have some okay skills with: writing, journaling, reading books and reviewing them, talking (ha), and in general, creating. Now, I like all these things in different degrees, but I am really appreciating the push to create. Or maybe I should say "sub-create." I'm increasingly wishing I could set aside the academic stuff and write things that are more fun-- stories of my own imagining. Maybe experiment with some poetry. I drew ikon-style pictures for my family members for Christmas. It'd be nice to do more of that.

All that to say in advance to any professors reading-- expect papers to get shorter the more the semester wears on. I maybe giving in more and more to writing things that aren't school.*









*Not really serious. I'll still give my best to my papers...but it might be evident that I'm thinking of other things at that time...We'll see.